New Year’s Eve is one of the most dangerous nights for driving. Based on data from previous years, the National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that more than 380 people might pass away in car accidents and 43,800 people might be hurt with nonfatal injuries this New Year’s holiday period.
There are a few reasons why crashes are so common on the last night of the year:
- Heavy traffic: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the chance of being in a fatal car accident at night are three times higher than during the day.
- Nighttime driving: During the holiday season, there are more people out on the roads, especially late at night and on New Year’s Eve. The reality is that some of these drivers are overtired or impaired by alcohol or drugs. Driving at night is also more challenging than the day because of limited visibility and glare from the lights of other vehicles.
- Drunk driving: Some people will drive while impaired on New Year’s Eve. In 2019, 36 percent of all fatal motor vehicle crashes that occurred over the New Year’s holiday period involved a drunk driver.
- Weather: In some parts of the country, weather contributes to the rise in New Year’s Eve crashes. In areas that see heavy snow and sleet, icy roads, poor visibility, and freezing temperatures all make driving more challenging this time of the year. These drivers should take extra precautions to winterize their vehicles, and they should adjust their driving to account for icy roads and limited visibility.
There are many driving challenges on New Year’s Eve, but there are also ways you can stay safe if you plan on going out to celebrate the holiday. Listed below are important driving safety tips for New Year’s Eve.
Adjust for Nighttime Driving
Driving at night requires a bit of extra caution and care. High-intensity discharge (HID) and light-emitting diode (LED) headlights in newer-model vehicles better illuminate the roadways, but they can also cause a glare for oncoming drivers.
Avoid looking directly into the lights of vehicles coming toward you. If lights in your rear-view or side mirrors make it hard for you to see, focus on the lane markers or the shoulder of the road and allow the vehicle behind you to pass. Keep your own windshield clean to prevent glare. Always increase your following distance at night, and reduce your speed when driving in the dark.
Avoid Drinking and Driving
It only takes a single drink to reduce your coordination, slow your reaction time, and impair your decision-making ability. If you want to enjoy a few cocktails this New Year’s Eve, there are ways to stay safe and avoid a drunk driving accident.
If you are going out in a group, decide who will be the designated driver before you leave. This person will make sure everyone gets home safely. Public transportation and rideshare services, like Uber or Lyft, are also options.
You should also consider celebrating at home. If guests have been drinking, you should offer for them to spend the night. If you see anyone who has been drinking attempt to drive home, take their keys away, and get them a cab or a rideshare service.
Keep an Emergency Kit in Your Vehicle
Although Georgia residents rarely encounter blizzards or freezing temperatures, drivers still deal with breakdowns, accidents, and other hazards during the holiday season. That is why every driver should keep a safety kit in their vehicle at all times.
Here are the supplies to include in your driving emergency kit:
- Basic first-aid supplies.
- Bottled water.
- Non-perishable foods.
- Portable phone charger.
- Flashlight and extra batteries.
- Jumper cables.
However you choose to ring in the new year, it is important to plan ahead and organize a safe way to get home once the night is over. As one of the busiest nights of the year for parties and gatherings, it may be hard to find a cab or a rideshare service.
You might assume someone in your group will stay sober, only to find no one is in a position to safely drive at the end of the night. If you feel stuck, you may be tempted to risk driving while impaired. If you plan ahead, you can enjoy the holiday knowing you have taken steps to help keep you and those around you safe.
What Are Penalties for Drunk Driving in Georgia?
On New Year’s Eve, the main risk of the night is being involved in a New Year’s Eve drunk driving accident. However, even if you avoid an accident while impaired, you still face steep legal and financial penalties, including a charge for driving under the influence (DUI).
Laws in Georgia prohibit anyone from being in control of a car:
- If they are under the influence of any alcohol, drugs, or controlled substances.
- With any amount of marijuana or illegal drugs in their system.
- With a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08 percent or greater.
Penalties for a first offense include 10 days to a year in jail, fines from $300 to $1,000, and community service. Each subsequent offense brings more jail time and larger fines. Keep in mind, certain extenuating circumstances can also bring more serious penalties.
What Should I Do After an Accident on New Year’s Eve?
Even if you stay sober or have a sober friend drive you home, other motorists may not be as responsible. If you are involved in a car accident this New Year’s Eve, try to remain calm.
Start by assessing everyone at the scene for injuries, and call for help if anyone appears to be seriously hurt. Since some injuries are not immediately obvious, avoid moving anyone in pain, and wait for first responders to help.
When the police arrive, explain what happened. State the facts as you know them, and you should avoid admitting fault. Exchange your information with the police and the other driver, including license, proof of insurance, and registration. If you can, take pictures or videos of the accident scene. It is always a good idea to see a doctor after any type of crash to rule out serious injuries.
Once you have filed a police report and received medical attention, contact a trusted car accident lawyer for legal guidance. In many cases, the at-fault driver’s insurance company may offer a settlement for damages. However, it may not be enough to cover your medical bills, lost income, and auto repairs.
A lawyer will review your case and recommend the next best step to move forward after a serious car accident.
Effingham County Car Accident Lawyers at Kicklighter Law Provide Skilled Legal Representation to Clients Injured in Holiday Collisions
Many people will go out and celebrate on New Year’s Eve. Some motorists will not drive responsibly, and you can become injured in a car accident. If you have been hurt by a negligent motorist, our Effingham County car accident lawyers at Kicklighter Law can help. Call us at 912-754-6003 or contact us online to learn more and to schedule a free consultation. We are located in Springfield, Georgia, and we proudly serve clients throughout Savannah, Effingham County, and the surrounding areas.